French plan to manage wolf population angers farmers and conservationists alike

© Pascal Pavani, AFP file photo

French conservation groups on Monday withdrew from government consultations about managing the wolf population, describing as "unacceptable" ministers' new proposals for checking the growing numbers of the once endangered predator.

"We have announced our definitive withdrawal from the National Wolf Group," said Jean-David Abel of France Nature Environnement (FNE), speaking on behalf of six environmental associations.

Unveiled at the latest round of closed-door talks between environmentalists, elected officials, civil servants, the agricultural industry and hunters, the government's wolf plan for 2024-29 has failed to satisfy either side, with farmers also complaining.

"It's not new for the government to listen to (farmers' union) FNSEA, the (sheep farmers' group) FNO and the chambers of agriculture, but when it's this unbalanced we said to ourselves 'we're not doing any good here' and it's up to the state to take responsibility for that," Abel said.

None of the environmentalists' proposals made earlier this year were reflected in the final text, he added.

Wolves had vanished from France but began returning in the 1990s, with farmers saying they suffered 12,000 attacks on their animals last year.

Wolf numbers were estimated at 1,104 individuals by France's biodiversity authority this month, based on indicators including tracks, overheard wolf howls, genetic analysis and others.

Current rules allow up to 19 percent of the population to be culled.


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